Neurosurgical Associates of Central Jersey
Spinal Synovial Cyst

A spinal synovial cyst is an abnormal collection of fluid that forms in a sac within a spinal joint. These fluid-filled sacs are benign (not cancerous), and they are most likely to form within your lower back, also known as your lumbar region.

Here’s what you need to know about spinal synovial cysts and how the Neurosurgical Associates of Central Jersey, P.A., can help you manage this condition.

Spinal Synovial Cyst Causes

A tissue within your spine column, known as the synovium, secretes synovial fluid to help lubricate the facet joints of your spine. When these joints begin to wear, due largely to the natural aging process, too much synovial fluid can build up, creating sac-like protrusions called cysts that can press on the nerves inside your spinal canal or spinal cord. The cause of a spinal cyst is a result of degenerative osteoarthritis generally seen with increasing age, especially in people over age 65. Sometimes joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can also increase the likelihood of developing a spinal synovial cyst.

Spinal Synovial Cyst Symptoms

The symptoms of a spinal synovial cyst will vary depending on where the cyst is located within your spinal column and the size of the cyst. It is possible to not experience any symptoms at all of a spinal synovial cyst, and for it to be found “incidentally” on a neuroimaging study.

When symptoms of a spinal synovial cyst do exist, they can include:

  • Back or leg pain that is worse when standing or walking is relieved by sitting
  • Numbness, tingling or leg weakness
  • Leg pain, cramping or heaviness that worsens with walking (known as “claudication”)
  • Sciatic pain radiating down one or both legs

A rare, emergent condition known as cauda equine syndrome can also be caused by a spinal synovial cyst. If you are experiencing numbness on the inside of your thighs, loss of bowel or bladder control or severe leg weakness, seek emergency medical assistance immediately.

Spinal Synovial Cyst Evaluation

A spinal synovial cyst can be detected using an imaging method such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). Sometimes, an X-ray will be used first to rule out other conditions that may be causing neurologic symptoms.

Spinal Synovial Cyst Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with a spinal synovial cyst, it may remain stable over the long term. If it is not causing you any symptoms, or if you feel like the symptoms are manageable, a spinal synovial cyst may not require any medical or surgical intervention. However, if you are having symptoms of a spinal synovial cyst that are intensifying or interrupting your daily life, a neurosurgeon can improve your symptoms by removing the cyst. This will take the pressure off of your spinal nerve roots, improving your symptoms. After the cyst is removed, a new cyst may be prevented from developing by fusing the bones of the affected spinal joint. However, a fusion is not commonly needed. Your specific treatment will depend on your overall health and treatment goals.

What to Do If You Have Symptoms of a Spinal Synovial Cyst

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a spinal synovial cyst, it can be alarming. However, learning more about your condition can help you understand how it will be managed and what you can expect throughout the course of your treatment. At the Neurosurgical Associates of Central Jersey, P.A., our surgical experts are devoted to making patients feel comfortable and confident in their neurosurgical treatment plans.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a spinal synovial cyst, contact us today for an evaluation.

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